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The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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CNN

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02:00:00

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Annapolis, MD, USA

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Port 1234

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mpeg2video

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mp2

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720

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480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Libya 57, U.s. 40, Us 28, Tripoli 18, Benghazi 17, Moammar Gadhafi 14, U.n. 14, United States 12, Obama 9, America 8, Latin America 8, Nic 7, Dennis Kucinich 6, Nato 6, Egypt 5, Nic Robertson 5, Jack Cafferty 4, Syria 4, Bahrain 4, United Nations 4,
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  CNN    The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting  
   and online resources update international news. New.  

    March 21, 2011
    5:00 - 7:00pm EDT  

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his attorney refuses to call us back. >> that's it for april. what happens this week? >> this week will be jeremy morlock who is charged with killing innocent -- it was staged killings, the allegati allegations. it's really repugnant to read. the army used the word repugnant. they've been trying to keep this under wraps for a long time. it's difficult too report on. >> i remember when you were reporting last september. stay with it, we'll follow up with you. let's go now to wolf blitzer in washington. wolf? >> thanks very much, brook. happening now, breaking news, new anti-aircraft fire over libya's capital after two days to enforce a no-fly zone. new questions about whether moammar gadhafi will still be in power once the bombing stops. it's still u.s. policy for gadhafi to go. but that's not the mandate of the united nations mission. this hour, live reports, new information about the battle
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plan right now, and the president's end game. and fright thing new set backs in japan's nuclear crisis. officials try to put to rest concerns of contaminated food. i'm wolf blitzer you're in "the situation room." anti-aircraft fire over tripoli just a little while ago. one u.s. official tells us coalition attacks appear to have stalled moammar gadhafi and his forces. it's unclear what the libyan leader may be doing next or where he is even right now. gadhafi's compound took a pounding today. u.s. and allied commanders deny they're specifically targeting him or his residents.
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one u.s. commander acknowledged that gadhafi may still be in power when the bombing stops. president obama says the u.s. will try to push gadhafi out. but within the limits sanctioned by the united nations. >> it is u.s. policy that gadhafi needs to go. we have a wide range of tools to support that policy. when it comes to our military action, we are doing so in support of u.n. security resolution 1973. that specifically talks about humanitarian efforts. and we are going to make sure that we stick to that mandate. >> let's go straight to libya, our senior international correspondent nic robertson is in tripoli, and arwa damon is reporting from benghazi. nic, to you. the president made it abundantly clear what u.s. policy is, i assume gadhafi, his sons and those closest to him are under
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no illusions the u.s. will stop nothing short of regime change. in other words, getting rid of gadhafi when all the dust settles fp. >> reporter: they've been aware of that for some time. and for them, that's nonnegotiable. it's not something growing anywhegoing anywhere. when i had a chance to talk to any of the sons of moammar gadhafi that i met here, it draws a straight no. he's the leader and anything else that may happen further down the road, any changes in the future of this country are not going to be negotiated now. not when the father is under threat. and certainly, the indications -- all the indications we're getting now, they're not bulging on that. the government's very firm, the leader ship is very firm in its position right now. >> there's something shocking crossing right now. fox news reporting that last night we were speaking live on cnn last night you were taken to ga catch if i. a gadhafi compound to inspect
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what the damage was from a u.s. coalition air strike. fox is reporting now that you and a reuters crew, some others were effectively used as human shields. and that deterred the british from launching other air strikes at this area. what's the truth here, nic? you were there, what happened? >> reporter: if i can talk you through what happened last night, to be perfectly honest, i don't see how that could have been the case. there were about 40 journalists on the bus that the government organized, they took some time to organize after they said they wanted to go. we weren't exactly clear where we were going. we didn't know that's precisely where we were going. it took perhaps over half an hour, 45 minutes to fight our way through the traffic there, to get there. because there's so many cars
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outside the compound area. all the gadhafi loyalists were going there. a couple people wanted to get off the bus, they had no problem getting off the bus, even as they were sort of driving out the gates, last minute, changes of mind, changes of plan. those people got off the bus. there was no compunction to get on the bus. some chose to go on the trip, others chose not to go out on the trip. if you don't go, you're just ignored by the officials. they don't come banging on your door. when we got there, we got off the bus, put our bags through security. there's an airport screening thing. you walk for five minutes, go through another security, wait for five minutes. we were taken through to the building that had been damaged and destroyed. we had just about enough time to shoot everything we wanted to shoot around that building, 15, 20 minutes and we were whised
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away to the tent where moammar gadhafi gave a couple shots. whisked out of the compound back through security and to our bus. i was pushed on the bus when i was trying to be on the air broadcasting, by a government official pushing us on the brus trying to get us out of there. my analysis is, and i've been doing this for a couple years, the government may be trying to pull stunts. my sense of what happened was, that wasn't what was happening. the time we arrived was a random time fp we went in, quickly taken to where we were going and got rid of us. i think they were taking us to show us the building that had been hit. because the pentagon spokesman said no buildings had been hit. and then they got rid of us, that's the way this government operates here.
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>> so the bottom line, you don't believe that the libyans were using you and your colleagues as human shields to prevent british jet fighters from attacking this site? >> reporter: wolf, we were in that compound for about two and a half hours, with gadhafi supporters, expecting him to come out for a speech. we went there when we wanted to go, we left when we wanted to leave. all the other journalists when they wanted to leave, they were able to leave as well. we weren't kept hanging around for half an hour or an hour or told no, you must wait a brit longer, no, you have to stay here, you can't leave -- i think if somebody wanted to use us as a human shield, and they didn't know if the building was planned to be targeted. when it was planned to be targeted. if they wanted to use us as human shields, i believe, this would have been my suspicion,
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they would have kept us there for longer, that's not what happened. i think -- my perception of this is, any journalist who came along on the trip last night, would share that experience and would see it from the same perspective. if people didn't go on that journey, then perhaps they would have a different perspective. if they had been there to witness it themselves they would have seen how it played out. >> be careful over there. we'll stay in close touch, nic robertson. let's go to benghazi right now, it's under the control of the rebels, the opposition to gadhafi, ara damon is joining us now. what's going on on this day, a day where there was an offensive, i take itting by the rebel forces. what are they doing? >> reporter: well, wolf, the opposition military, the fighters have actually now been able to take the battle back to
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the city. 100 miles to the west of here. that is just two days after gadhafi's military on saturday, attacked the city of benghazi killing at least 95 people, according to hospital officials. it was a terrifying moment for the residents. there are many of them telling us about how the tanks came barrelling down the road firing indiscriminately into the buildings. his buildings using automatic heavy machine guns to shoot at residential blocks. the opposition did on saturday manage to drive gadhafi's military out. both under no illusion that they would be able to do that on the long term on sunday. finally, they say foreign fighter jets, french fighter jets hounded gadhafi's military that was masked some 20 miles outside of benghazi. we went to survey the scene afterwards and the carnage stretched for miles. everyone here, wolf, grateful
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for this foreign intervention. without which they firmly believe they would have all eventually massacred. now they feel at least the playing field has been evened out. >> and they must have been thrilled when they heard the president of the united states, arwa say flatley, that yes the united nations security council resolution has an objective protecting them. but u.s. policy remains unchanged, gadhafi must go. i assume the reaction was very enthusiastic where you are? >> absolutely, wolf. and this is is the kind of support from the united states that the opposition has been looking for from the start, that up until the last few days, they really felt they didn't have. until that u.n. resolution was pushed through, most members of the opposition here felt that the international community -- they would especially point to the united states, in this case was abandoning them.
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was going to lead them to the mercy of gadhafi, ever since that u.n. resolution passed, we've been hearing a change in attitude amongst opposition members toward america, now they do believe is firmly behind them. this is the kind of legitimacy they are looking for, especially as they share the same goal at the end of the day. they want to see gadhafi removed from power. they don't necessarily want to see that taking place by some sort of an air strike, they want to be the ones to do it themselves. >> arwa, we'll stay in close toich with you as well. there are now new warnings that a bloodless coup may be in the works in yemen. we're getting late word of a possible deal, stand by. president obama already setting the stage for the next phase of the mission against libya. and america's role in it. we'll find out if there's any new light on why smoke has been
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beat. he's here with the cafferty file. >> the united states military leading the initial air attacks against moammar gadhafi's forces in libya. all got started over in past weekend. something eerily reminiscent to me about the way the war in iraq started almost 10 years ago. president obama insisted at a news conference this afternoon, that the u.s. will soon step aside and the mission will then be controlled by nato forces and other allies. it was the first time the president has answered questions on the topic of libya since allied air strikes got yurunder on suffered. many have criticized the administration about the way they've taken part in the situation in libya. before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the american people and congress about our mission in libya, and how it will be achieved.
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republican senator richard lugar, ranking members of the foreign relations committee echoed his concerns. he said he doesn't understand the mission either, and believes there are no guidelines set for success. it's not a partisan issue either, so far. a group of liberal house democrats held a conference call saturday, they are very upset that congress wasn't formally consulted before the united states and the allies attacked gadhafi's forces, they're concerned that involvement in the air strikes could lead to a third war in the middle east in a the united states is involved in. dennis kucinich even raised the prospect of impeachment over the president's actions and decisions. here's the question, what is your understanding of america's role in the libya offensive? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog. >> i'll check the blog, thanks. the political turmoil that sparked the military action, we're seeing in libya is part of
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an escalating wave of unrest erupting across north africa and the middle east. in syria, hundreds have taken to the streets following the death of a protester killed by syrian government security forces. witnesses say five people have died since friday. in bahrain, human rights watches urging the government to end what it's calling a campaign of arrests against doctors and pro-democracy supporters, thousands have been demonstrating since last month. king hammad says it's all part of a formal plot to destabilize the country. a show of force against the president as three top generals quit and joined up with the protesters. one official now warning of a bloodless coup, that could be in the works. mohammad jamjoun is in the area
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for us. what's going on? >> reporter: u.s. and yemeni officials are telling cnn that president abdallah are in talks with military generals that defected earlier in the day. they're talking about a five-point plan, parts of it would make sure that protesters are protected. investing in violence that happened and making sure the president left a time line to leave by the end of the year. the opposition in yemen would still have to agree to come to the stable. in the past couple months, the opposition has just said they are not going to talk to president sawra. even if there are talks going on, tdiplomats are seeing the early stages of a bloodless copcop
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coup. military defense are standing by saleh and saying the army will. they've sent out their troops to the streets to protect the protesters, if they start clashing, it gets bloody, diplomats are afraid yemen could be on the brink a civil war. >> i know you're monitoring that for us, you're also monitoring arab participation in the no fly zone over libya. we know qatar is going to get involved, they're sending a jet fighter or two or three. the united arab emirates were supposed to get involved. they have a robust supplied air force, f-15s, f-16s, what are she doing? >> that's what's been so interesting, uae official said the uae has confined its role to a humanitarian aide role. everybody expected the uae would be in there with fighter planes right now, military defense around lifts were telling me they fully expected the uae
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would commit planes and flying over libya. so far all you've seen is qatar. a lot of confusion about why the uae isn't participating in a more robust way. people wondering if this is because the arab league is concerned that supporting the rebels in libya. how does that affect the area. a lot of gcc countries, their leaders don't want to support the protesters in their own countries. but they're siding with the rebels. a lot to sort out in the coming days, hopefully we'll hear more from the uae in the coming days as well. >> thanks, mohammad jamjoon in abu dhabi. just ahead, the transition the president says is about to take place. will it? how long? and new fears for those
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trapped inside the libyan war zone. one woman whose family is now missing. wrench? wrench.
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because we're working with international partners, after the initial thrust that has disabled gadhafi's air defenses, limits his ability to threaten large population centers like
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benghazi, there's going to be a transition taking place in which we have a range of coalition partners, the europeans, members of the arab league who will then be participating in establishing a no fly zone there. >> president obama trying to reassure the world, the united states will step back from its leading role in the attacks on gadhafi's libyan targets. sooner rather than later. let's bring in our senior u.n. correspondent. the president says u.s. policy is gadhafi must go. ? a time line on when he will go? >> reporter: there really is not. the president is hedging on that. that is critical how the world is viewing this situation. in terms of the handover, the president says it will happen in days not weeks. they have to make sure they can get nato allies on board, maybe some arab allies as well.
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they're not all quite there yet. the fact of the matter,the president was trying to walk a fine line today and say, look, the u.n. mandate is narrow. the president sort of has his hands tied a little bit here, it only says that you're trying to deal with humanitarian crisis, to protect the civilians, the u.n. mandate is not for regime change. separate from that, the president noted it's u.s. policy they want gadhafi to go. you can split this anyway you want rhetorically. at the end of the day, when this mission is completed in some form or fashion, if gadhafi is still in power, it's going to be hard for the u.s. and its allies to claim success. it's a bottom line fact that makes s it difficult. >> there's some criticism here in washington on capitol hill, as you well know, from not just republicans, but even some democrats. dennis kucinich, for example. saying the president did not adequately consult with congress
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before sending u.s. troops off to war. how is the white house reacting to that? >> they're pushing back pretty hard, saying the president himself called in congressional leaders of both parties last friday, a quiet meeting in the white house situation room to sort of lay this mission out for them. and then on saturday, one of the president's top aids, dennis mcdonagh was back at the white house when the president was in brazil. he was phoning lawmakers to give them more details as the mission began. while the white house did reach out, in fact, when you look at that. there are still lawmakers in both parties not satisfied. they think there's too many unanswered questions, and as you noted, the big problem, it's not just republicans like dick lugar, there are a lot of gms -- i just spoke to this group, a liberal advocacy group, normally with the president on a lot of key issues, they can't support this mission in libya. too many unanswered questions. that shows this president still has a big political problem. >> we'll see, he may not have a big political problem if he succeeds. nothing succeeds as much as
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success. thanks very much for that. attacks and chaos in libya, there is positive news to report. we'll update you on the fate of four new york times journalists. ♪ [ male announcer ] these keys open doors to opportunity... ♪ ...build communities... ♪ ...and know how to have a good time. ♪ it's chevy truck month. get your keys. qualified buyers get 0% apr financing for 72 months on all 2011 silverado half-ton models. ♪ grab yours today.
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we've learned that four journalists captured by progovernment forces in libya have now been freed. "the new york times" sent an e-mail saying the four employees are now in tunisia. look at what's been going on over the skies of tripoli in the recent hours. explosions echoing across the city. a top u.s. commander stressing today that coalition forces are fighting to protect libyan civilians, not necessarily working to support the rebels. >> our mandate again, our mission is to protect civilians from attack by the regime ground forces. our mission is not to support any opposition forces. so while we have reports from people who are reported to be in
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the opposition, there is no official communication or formal communication with those in this so-called opposition that are opposing the regime's ground forces. >> general carter ham, he's in charge of this operation, at least now, until the transition to others goes forward. let's bring in wesley clark, a cnn contributor. does that make sense to you what general ham just said? that the u.s. is not working with the opposition? we know the president only the other day announced there would be a representative to the opposition, the secretary of state in paris met with an opposition leader, there are americans who deal with the opposition on a day-to-day basis, is he just being precise there's no military representatives dealing with the oppositi opposition?
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>> that's what i'm hearing. the military operation is strictly in line with the mandate that came out of the united nations. >> that's the military operation, but you know there are plenty of u.s. civilians who work for the united states government, whether the intelligence community or contractors who are not necessarily milt write, that they can do all sorts of other things right now. isn't that right? >> that's true. and presumably there are ngo's in there, and there are other people. there's a libyan opposition group in washington, in fact, and several other members of the former libyan royal family, for example who are deeply engaged in this. they're receiving all kinds of information, and whether, what the assistance is, of course, we don't know. i think it's one of the answers to questions the public would like to know. now the enunciated u.s. policy. the policy says gadhafi has to go. the u.n. security council resolution doesn't say that, the u.s. military's very technical,
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very legal, very much in accordance with the mandate of the u.n. security council. >> even hypothetically, special operations commandos, green beret forces, u.s. military personnel, they can't participate in this on the ground? is that what you're saying? they're that technical? >> i'm saying that not under the u.s. chain of command they can't, now, there is a separate procedure for presidential findings, and if that were to be done, we would never know about it, this is a so-called covert action. and that doesn't have to be bound by the u.n. security council. and there have been reports of sas troops on the ground, obviously, they're following that procedure. we don't know about it right now, if there are any u.s. covert operatives in there, that's the decision the president has to make, and we may not know for months or years. >> there's a little confusion in my mind when the u.s. will hand over authority to someone else. and i assume you know, general
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carter ham, when he relinquishes the leadership and gives it to some french general or admiral, supposedly within days, the president said some days. others are saying, not so fast, this could take a while? >> there are agreements that have to be worked out. there's a european union command and control capacity. maybe they can invoke that. does it have all the technical means and does it need technical means fed into it? exactly what the mission is,of the force after the united states hands over command and control, all that has to be agreed. right now i believe, from what i'm hearing behind the scenes, that there's still discussion going on in nato, turkey's concerned because they have guest workers in libya. they don't know what the impact on those turks would be that haven't been evacuated, if turkey were to side with nato.
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these issues are ongoing, and in discussion right now. >> the arab league wanted a no fly zone, they endorsed the no fly zone unanimously, even syria voted for it, but now most of those arab league countries are mia, missing in action. qatar is going to send a plane or two. are you disappointed that the arab countries, even those friendliest with the united states are sort of moving to the sidelines? >> absolutely disappointed. but not surprised. they don't have the legitimacy to make these kinds of decisions and then live with the consequences of it. this decision is a decision is that could entail a very long term obligation. it could be damaging. this is all public reports that ban ki-moon was in cairo and he was accosted by a libyan mob. i don't think that was a
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spontaneous libyan mob. gadhafi runs a dictatorship, a totalitarian regime, there's a long reach. there's problems for these states if they go against gadhafi. they're looking at it. >> he has a history reaching outside of libya over many years, we all remember the lockerbie bombing, pan am flight 103. general, thanks very much. inside libya, some people are scared for their lives, wondering what might happen next. we're talking to people inside the country. stand by, a live interview. was it a risky move by president obama to order this attack on libya? much less tell you what it means. he doesn't know that his parents are counting on the money they pay in. or that the hard earned benefits his grandparents receive... are secure. right now he's not thinking about his future. but we are. aarp has been working to preserve social security for more than 50 years. join us in a conversation to strengthen it
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trying the exelon patch. visit exelonpatch.com to learn more. just days into the coalition attacks in libya, dramatic new pictureses from people who live in. lisa silvester has more. >> reporter: i spoke with a man who does not want us to show his face or use his full name. benghazi has with stood the fighting, but in other parts, it's not the same. >> thanks are firing on buildings and destroying buildings -- apartment buildings where people are living. he has snipers on some rooftops that are shooting at anybody who
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moves anywhere in misurata. he has cut off water supply for almost a week now, from misurata. >> reporter: abraham's comments about misurata can't be confirmed. but opposition sources say about a dozen people were killed there today. and libyan tv says the government has purged the city of rebels. abraham says gadhafi's forces including tanks and artillery were closing in on rebel held benghazi where he and his family live. a few hundred fighters made it into the city. >> they started shooting and firing some of the tank shells fell on houses, and destroyed them partially. there were victims, some dead, and these people, the other people other than the tanks were driving around the city throwing hand grenades all over the place and firing in all directions. trying to create an atmosphere of chaos and panic in the city. >> reporter: but then on saturday night, coalition forces stepped in.
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french military planes destroyed progovernment tanks and other vehicles. >> i know people started crying when they saw the equipment that was heading toward benghazi, just imagining what it would have done to benghazi if the french had not eliminated that threat. >> reporter: he says progadhafi forces have either been arrested or killed in benghazi. gadhafi can only hold on for so long. >> his days are numbered. it may be a low number, a high number. it's difficult to tell. but it depends on the amount of aid that we get from the international community to neutralize gadhafi's military force. if he's not able to terrorize people with the military force, he will not last very long at all. >> it's hard for many people to communicate in the cities that are seeing the most intense clashes like misurata and tripoli. phone lines are not working, the
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internet is down. they are getting reports from people who are managing to flee those cities. >> thanks very much. outside libya, many are desperating waiting for w0rd from loved ones. many now missing. plus, pressure for the end game the pentagon envisions in libya. most americans aren't eating enough whole grains.
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libya, a welcome sight to many civilians under assault by pro-gadhafi forces, if they know what's going on. some are in hiding or missing right now. we spoke a couple weeks ago with a woman from misurata. >> the situation is really unstable. it seems like it's liberated. but you don't know what's going to happen next, so you're constantly kind of in fear. people are really stressed out. >> now, ibrahim's relatives say they haven't been able to reach her. joining us from ottawa, her sister. sophia, thank you for joining us, when was the last time you spoke or heard from your sister? >> the last i spoke to my sister was on tuesday afternoon our time. and they forewarned me that the lines might be this connected for the next little while. it seems they had some sort of inclination about what was coming. not speaking to them for about a week has been extremely
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stressful. >> have you been able to get through to anyone in misurata? >> we've have not been able to get through to anyone. we have tried land lines, cell phones, directly we have not been able to get any news from them. >> so your sister, presumably is okay, but all communications have been cut off. and that's why you're not able to hear from her? i assume that's what you think, right? >> that's right. we're hoping she's okay. there's no sure way of knowing. we've seen footage coming out of misurata, and especially the areas where my family resides. it's been pretty scary. i mean, just the amount of destruction that we see isn't really a good indicator of how the people are doing over there. it's terrifying to know that my people in the city of misurata are living this every day for a week now. >> i remember when i spoke with your sister, she was obviously very excited, passionate, she
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was anxious for gadhafi to simply go away. i assume you share her thoughts, is that right? >> yes, yes. we've been dreaming of this day for a very long time now. and we kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we realize it's going to take a little bit longer, hopefully it will happen very soon. but we realize that 41 years doesn't disappear overnight. and we're willing to stay for the long run, for as long as it takes. >> we're praying for your sister and all the people of libya. thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you so much, wolf. what's your understanding of america's role in libya? jack cafferty has your answers when we come back. a major setback in the desperate attempt to stop a nuclear meltdown in japan. president obama getting backlash from both sides of the aisle on the libyan offensive. [ slap! slap! slap! slap! slap! ] [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums.
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take a look at some of the memorable images coming in from libya in tripoli right now. a supporter of moammar gadhafi rallies support for the libyan leader. meanwhile, a rebel man's machine gun during a fire fight with gadhafi's forces. in tripoli, a boy outside ajdabiya. a man smiles before launching a
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failed attempt to take control of the city. a look at the situation unfolding in libya. let's bring back jack with the cafferty file. jack? >> the question this hour is what is your understanding of america's role in the libya offensive? kim in virginia writes the mission is to give aid and stop the genocide of people who want to remove a dictator of 42 years who uses military force to stay in power. the world cannot sit by and watch one more war of attacks on innocent women and children. steve in new york says obama is so slow. if had he acted two weeks ago, gadhafi would have been circled by his own people and probably taken out by now. the result now is where we were with saddam in iraq, no-fly zone for the next five years while gadhafi will be busy killing his own people. chris writes, i just kind of figured must have been some kind of a wage two wars get a third war free promotion. lorn writes we get to spend the most money by using our
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expensive munitions to blast the control structure to hel and the remaining countries get to practice their flying skills when it's safe to do. in other words, we bear the brunt of the expense but no boots on the ground. government by public releases. david writes, my understanding is we'll take control of libya's oil production to help bring down gas prices in the united states after that, we're building a disney middle east theme park on top of gadhafi's main compound. some of you people are not taking this seriously. michael writes, we're there to clear the skies for england and france. once the air defenses are obliterated we will be in support. change the name of the country to iraq, change the year from 2011 to 1992, change the name obama to bush. the bottle might look different but the wine is the same. tony writes president hillary clinton has stated our position doing a great job while her subordinates travel and play golf. if you want to read more go to
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cnn.com/cafferty file. >> some tough comments there. thanks very much, jack. jack cafferty with the fafrt file. we're not just focusing in on libya. in japan, a new concern. food and milk exposed to nuclear radiation. should any of us be worried? plus, we're digging deep ear into the libyan opposition. is al qaeda playing any role at all? find out. peter bergen is here in "the situation room." [ male announcer ] ten people are going to win the chevrolet, buick, gmc or cadillac of their choice.
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we're going back to nic robertson and arwa damon in libya in a few moments. first, new information on the aftermath of the japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. following a report of japanese food and milk exposed to radiation, the world health organization today announced short-term exposure to foods contaminated by the radiation poses no immediate health risk. meantime, japanese authorities have banned the sale of some of those products, including milk and spinach. also,' setback in the desperate struggle to prevent a nuclear meltdown. smoke is spew from two reactors in the daiichi plant. some workers have been evacuated. and a remarkable story of survival. more than a week since the tragedy, a 16-year-old boy and his 80-year-old grandmother have been rescued from their home. he tells reporters that they survived on snacks. the desperate search for
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survivors in the disaster zone is a daunting task and one that in cases like japan requires more than just human efforts. our brian todd has this part of the story. >> wolf, meet my new friends tomo and petzel, veterans of disaster response efforts. they're definitely not mascots. with an energetic hardwired burst, atticus charges into the rubble bouncing around a fallen roof focused on one thing, finding a living breathing human amid the sprawling wreckage of the tsunami. it might seem an unfair request of a german shepherd, but atticus and more than a dozen other dogs working with u.s. and british rescue teams here are more than equal to it. >> how important are these dogs to the operation? >> very. there's a lot of technical gear, cameras, all that stuff for locking people but at the end of the day, you can't beat a dog for finding the scent of a human
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being. >> reporter: rob has a tight bond with his border collie byron. the dogs are so highly trained, they're able to block out the scent of a deceased person and pick up only on someone who's alive. their success rate is impressive. these teams pulled more than a dozen survivors safely from the rubble in haiti in no small part due to teammates like this german help shep herds named racker. keeping this em sharp involves creativity. >> the team just had to do a drill with racker because they haven't found nina live in a few days. they a team member hideout of sight out of any sensory perception for racker, sent him in there to see if they could find that team member. that's how they keep the dogs sharp if they haven't found anyone in a few days. >> you stare in amazement as they run, jump, land and bounce off objects so jagged and uneven that most people couldn't even attempt it. but they're not invincible.
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>> did he give you any kind of signal or did you just see the blood? >> no, i just saw blood. >> tomo snagged something in his paw. a little field surgery and he's back in the game. later on, racker needs more work to stitch up a wound. never do we hear one wimper from either dog. >> good boy. >> traveling, sleeping, it'sing, and playing with their handlers is part of the routine. their communication is so instinctive, they sometimes understand each other just by making eye contact. we didn't witness them finding survivors in japan, but the dogs serve another purpose for those who have lost everything. >> having the dog and seeing the times that the people in haiti or something would enjoy a little solace from the dog, that's part of their job also. and helpful to everybody to teammates and myself alike. >> and all these dogs like atticus here actually live with their handler who are heavily involved in their train. that helps solidify the bond
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between them and helps them get through the long deployments a long way from home. >> brian todd doing an excellent job for us in japan. to our viewers, you're in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. anti-aircraft fire over libya's capital has the u.s. and its allies step up the no fly campaign as libya shows off the damage to moammar gadhafi's own compound, there are now questions about his current whereabouts. president obama leaves little doubt about gadhafi's future saying he needs to go. but the allies don't have a mandate to kick gadhafi out. and that's raising some questions about the end game. one military spokesman saying the mission may have already peek peaked. political headlines and jeanne moos all straight ahead. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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anti-aircraft fire lighting up the skiy ies over libya's capital. the u.s. putting a tight lid on libyan air space to expand a no-fly zone. the latest air patrols were preceded by numerous missile strikes including a hit on moammar gadhafi's personal compound in tripoli. the leaders whereabouts right now unknown. u.s. commanders say coalition forces are generally achieving their words, generally achieving their goals, but a lot of questions remain about the allied mission going forward. let's go straight to our pentagon correspondent chris lawrence. he's got some answers for us. chris, first of all what, do they think? how do they think the u.s. and its coalition partners are doing? >> well, they think they're progressing, wolf. the real question here is what sounds so simple that to enforce
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a no-fly zone and to protect civilians is actually very complicated and it may present some very difficult zigs for coalition commanders. u.s. commanders say when american troops finish their fight in libya, moammar gadhafi cog still be standing. >> is that ideal? i don't think anyone would say that that is ideal. but i could envision that as a possible situation at least for the current mission that i have. >> reporter: the u.n. resolution authorizes the coalition to stop gadhafi's forces from attacking civilians. and allow humanitarian aid to get in. it does not include targeting gadhafi but leaves enough leeway for commanders to strike his compound, a sprawling place that is contains air defense systems and housing. >> how did the bombing of his compound tie into the mission of protecting civilians? >> because that degrading that
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command and control facility would degrade the regime's ability to control its military forces in the attack of civilians. >> reporter: but the mission could get murky when it comes to opposition fighter who are civilians, too. the rebels themselves now have some armored vehicles and heavy weapons. >> those entities and those parts of the opposition are, i would argue, are no longer covered under that protect civilian clause. >> so what will the coalition do if the rebels go on the offensive? try to take back territory. if they become the danger to civilians. >> so this become a particular challenge for us should that eventuality occur. >> reporter: it's not even clear how far the coalition will go to fight gadhafi's forces. they've bombed infantry units
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but say -- >> there is no intent to completely destroy the libyan military forces. >> for now, u.s. military leaders are focused on extending the no-fly zone to benghazi and eventually enforcing it over the western half of libya. >> that's about 1,000 kilometers. so it's a pretty wide area. >> there's no question that the u.s. wants to pull back and hand over responsibility to another command. the question is, who? the defense official told me that nato could easily make the switch over with little disruption and little risk to pilots to keep flying. the problem is, some of the arab countries have issues with flying under a nato flag. >> so do we have any precise time when this transition will take place? days, weeks, what's the latest? >> if you believe the officials from the pentagon all the way up to the administration, they're still saying days, wolf. >> the president said several
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days. i'm hearing it could take longer than that. chris lawrence at the pentagon, thanks very much. > . >> sounds of explosions. >> that was anti-aircraft fire and attacks in tripoli a little while ago. nic robertson is on the scene for us as he has been for weeks. what's the latest as far as you can tell, nic? >> reporter: wolf, it's been pretty quiet for the last couple hours. before that, we had had the explosions in the distance followed by anti-aircraft gunfire and a couple of hours before that, about 8:00 p.m. local time just after it got dark, a couple more explosions with heavy anti-aircraft gunfire looping up into the sky. officials told us somewhere in the port area tripoli was the
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target. and also just about 75 miles down the coast a port also the target. in the harbor here, there are libyan naevl vessels with radar equipment. are they part of the air defense system? were they the target? we don't know at this time, wolf. >> another unreed matter, maybe it is related. i want you to explain what you know about this suggestion fox news reporting that you, a reuters crew, some other journalists were evetively used by gadhafi as a human shield to prevent allied fighter planes from coming in and attacking a certain position. explain what you know about this. >> reporter: wolf, this allegation is outrageous and it's absolutely hypocritical. when you come to somewhere like libya, you expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship here. you don't expect it from the other journalists. why do i say that? because fox news has said that they didn't send somebody on
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this trip last night because they said it was a, quote unquote, propaganda trip. they send a member of their team. he was not editorial. he was nontechnical, not normally a cameraman. he was given a camera by the team and told to come out and come on the bus with the 40 other journalists who were there who were free to get on the bus, free to get off the bus when they wanted.told us when he was on the bus that even he, this member of the fox team was surprised that the correspondent and the normal cameraman weren't coming out, that he was being sent. this isn't his normal job. that he was being sent. that's why i say what fox is saying is outrageous and hypocritical. the idea that we were some kind of human shields is nuts. i mean, if they had actually been there, steve harrigan is somebody i've phone for many years. i see him more times at breakfast than out on trips with government officials here. other correspondents here go out
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regularly, say the same things, nbc, cbs, all the other news teams here go out, not on all the government trips, we didn't go on another one yesterday but we rarely see the fox news team out on the trip. so for them to say and call this to say they didn't go and for them to call this and say this was government propaganda to hold us there as human shields when they didn't even leave the hotel, the correspondent didn't leave the hotel and go and see for himself is ridiculous. we were taken there, we went in through the security. we filmed the building. we were given 15, 20 minutes to do that. five minutes in gadhafi's tent and then we were taken out. i was literally pushed back on the bus when we left. that's how quickly the officials wanted to get us out. if i sound angry, it is because i am. i expect lies from the government here. i don't expect it from other judicialists. and it's frankly incredibly disappointing to me, wolf. >> did this fox representative
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who went with you on this trip, did he have a camera? >> reporter: he was given a camera by the cameraman. and the correspondent who stayed in the hotel and didn't go out, a correspondent who rarely leaves haddis hotel. i don't know who he's talking to here to find out what the story is, where we go on these government trips is for a very simple reason because we don't want government officials to film it themselves, edit it themselves and hand it off to us. we want to go for ourselves and see, is it a command and control system? what are the telltale signs there that the government wouldn't let us see if they edited the tape? that's why we go because we're news professionals and we want to see it for ourselves. as i say, i'm shocked, i find this a very, very poor situation, wolf. >> what about moammar gadhafi right now? and his son saif al islam? have we seen them, heard from them? are they in hiding someplace?
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what do we know? >> i was in a room with somebody here who received a call from saif al islam not long ago and i would add to that in the contempt of what i was saying here. i'm doing that because i'm making contacts here because i go out. we're just moving the camera because we're seeing anti-aircraft gunfire in the sky. sounds like possibly another attack.
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a number of different locations there as been hearing explosions. this heavy anti-aircraft gun fighters, snake up into the sky. trying to create an arc of fire across the sky. there's some incoming missiles, also seeing big white flashes in the sky from some heavier anti-aircraft rounds high in the sky. this is the third time. every two hours tonight since nightfall, there has been an attack and this heavy anti-aircraft gunfire. in the port of tripoli, at least one attack. another attack sounded like it came from the presidential -- from the gadhafi palace here. but again, this anti-aircraft gunfire either -- we'll listen to it. >> let's just listen and watch this for a minute or so. we'll just let it play out.
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[ anti-aircraft fire ] all right. you can see live fire over tripoli right now. it's not stopping. it seems more prolonged, nic, than earlier in the day.
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did you hear a loud attack first, a thumb followed by this anti-aircraft fire? >> reporter: that's what we've heard twice before this evening around 8 and 10:00 p.m. it's now midnight. i didn't hear it because sometimes these thuds, the impacts are sort of in the distance. perhaps because i was talking to you, i wasn't listening as closely to the ambient noise as a normally do when i'm standing here. it seems to be, that's why that gunfire started up. it seems to have eased off now. it seems these gunners are getting more used to trying to intersect missiles and perhaps recognizing by the time they've heard the missiles, it's too late. what was interesting when they impacted at 8:00, it took these gunners here perhaps 30 seconds, maybe a minute before they could react. this time they seemed to have been on their guns and at 10:00 p.m. when the missiles came in, they were on their guns quickly.
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but they seem to be now getting into the routine of this happening. this is the third time tonight and it's only midnight right now. >> what looks like to me, nic, is that the allies either send a missile in or a jet fighter overhead. they attack a target. and then the libyans just sort of randomly start shooting their anti-aircraft weapons into the sky. not necessarily aiming at anything but hoping to get lucky, if you will. is that the sense you get, as well? s>> reporter: that is. and military people know more about military things than i do tell me what they're trying to do is create an arc of fire through the sky. that's where they wave the weapon and you see those tracers move through the sky sideways because they're trying to create an arc or a field of fire that would intercept something flying through because they very likely wouldn't see a missile flying. at night, if you're lucky, you will perhaps see a missile as it
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goes past you. you'll see light coming from the rear engine on it. you may just see that, but they would have to be very, very lucky to be able to shoot down a missile, a cruise missile. i was in baghdad in 1991 with peter arnett who's a correspondent and producer, robert wiener, and a cruise missile was shot down not far from the al rashid hotel where we were located. it came down about 100 yards from where we are because it had been shot down it, didn't detonate and explode but created a big enough force from the crash and limited explosion that it blew the window in where we were and blew us across the room and onto the floor. so they can be shot down by anti-aircraft gunfire but it's got to be a lucky shot. and that was in daylight. it would be very unlikely i would think for any of the gunners here who don't seem to be as well trained as the gunners in baghdad to shoot one of these missiles down. >> missiles are pretty hard to
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shoot down. a jet fight ser pretty hard to shoot down as well, especially higher up. do you have any sense at all, nic, how far away this anti-aircraft fire was where from you are right now? >> we're guessing perhaps about a mile and a half. because we believe that this is gunfire coming from around that moammar gadhafi's palace complex area. there are very few locations in the city that have these heavy weapon systems. they do have them mounted on the backs of trucks so they can drive them around and move them should they so desire. this is one of the only locations where we've seen such heavy weaponry, perhaps down in the port would be another place and by the military airfield where you would expect to see heavy aircraft guns, the old u.s. base close to the sea in the east of the city, wolf. >> all right. nic, be very careful over there. we'll stay in close touch with
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you. if you hear more of that anti-aircraft fire or missile attacks or whatever, we're going to come right back to you. nic robertson on the scene for us in tripoli. jack cafferty is thinking about all of this, including the president of the united states who's on a trip to latin america. i can't tell you how courageous our journalists especially nic robertson, arwa damon in different parts of libya right now. i got to tell you as viewers know, this young man and young woman, i say young deliberately, they have guts. >> well, they do. i've worked here for a little over ten years and seen nic robertson frreport from all places. i've never seen him as excited when he was talking about the clowns at the f word network manufacturing some bogus story about him and his crew being used as human shields. enough is enough i guess and they managed to get under his skin pretty good. shame on them. president obama's in chile
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today, the second stop on a three-nation five-day trip to south and central america. it's the first time in the region since he took office. but it comes at a time when this country is suddenly involved in another hostile military action. these air strikes in libya. the possible meltdown of nuclear reactors in japan following an earthquake and tsunami that killed tens of thousands and could cripple that corrupt's economy, the third largest in the world for years and on the home front, a budget crisis and game of russian roulette over raising the national debt limit that could lead to the shutdown of the federal government. perfect time to pack up the wife, kids, mother-in-law, whoever else and head off down to carney value in rio. the white house says the goal of the president's trip is to expand trade and create more jobs here in the united states. republicans like senate minority leader mitch mcconnell are challenging that. they say that president obama has dragged his feet on free trade deals with two latin
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american allies, colombia and panama. he says these trade deals were fimlized three years ago and have broad bipartisan support. he says it's the administration holding things up. so here's the question. is this the right time for president obama to go to latin americaing? go to cnn.com/cafferty file and post a comment on my blog. wolf? >> jack, thank you. president obama says libya's leader, that's gadhafi, needs to go. go away. but do the allies have a mandate to force him militarily from power? stand by. libya's opposition is getting a major boost fa allied air power. could these rebels include members of kid? and in sharp contrast, in congress right now, some criticism of the u.s.-libya mission from both sides of the aisle.
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british government is facing a backlash for its role in the attacks against the gadhafi regime. some anti-war protesters took to the streets of london, some carrying libyan flags. the british prime minister david cameron defended the mission once again today saying the world can't stand aside while a dictator murders his own people. >> we have to be clear what our role is and our role is to enforce that u.n. security council resolution. many people would ask questions i'm sure today about regime
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change and gadhafi and the rest of it. i've been clear. i think libya needs to get rid of gadhafi, but in the end we are responsible for trying to enforce the security council resolution, the libyans must choose their own future. >> united states has become the reluctant leader of this no fly coalition at least for now. why haven't more arab nations delivered on promises of help? our national security analyst peter bergen is here. what happened to all the arab league support that was supposed to be very visible as part of this effort to create a no-fly zone? >> i guess they weren't listening to bob gates when he said what it would take to do a no-fly zone. it would involve real attacks against libya's anti-aircraft defenses. don't forget the arab league, this is the first time in their history they've done anything of any significance in the pst world. but for actually action against another arab state, this is usual unusual for them.
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i think they have buyers remorse. >> you're rethinking you made in a column you post this had weekend. >> i don't know if i'm rethinking necessarily. qatar is still involved. >> not with a whole lot of military might but the united arab emirates, jarnd, egypt, saudi arabia, where they are? >> they're nowhere. of those four that you mentioned you uae and jordan were the two supposed to do something. uae defaulted into humanitarian. >> what happened to kuwait, for example? >> i don't know. i really don't know, wolf. but the fact is is that they didn't, while musesa, the leader of the arab league sort of made statements saying we're backing off, eventually they said we're still behind the no-fly zone. what they've said publicly and saying prustly seems to be in conflict. the fact is that they still are behind the no-fly zone. >> gadhafi keeps saying these
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rebels are al qaeda. now, you're an authority on al qaeda. you've got a best selling book out "the longest war" on al qaeda. is there an element of truth what he says that these rebels are al qaeda? >> we don't really know who the rebels are. let's start with that. the fact is is that about 40% of the suicide bombers in iraq in 2007 came from eastern libya. so it's not completely implausible that members of al qaeda are in eastern libya. contradicting that the al qaeda affiliate there is sort of publicly renounced al qaeda and its ideology. of course, gadhafi would say that. like any ganda, there's a small element of truth in it, but this rebellion is much larger. the libyan islamic fighting group is a group in the low hundreds. we're looking at a substantial force. >> hundreds of thousands of people opposed -- bang has zi alone is a city of 00,000 people. >> let's say it devolved into a
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civil war. let's say it stays an civil war. al qaeda likes to take advantage of these kinds of situations. so it would be -- has wrong to discount them completely as to say they're the main cause of all this. >> peter, thanks for coming in. peter bergen helping us. allied air strikes give rebels cause to celebrate. can they take advantage of the setbacks to gadhafi's forces? arwa damon is standing by live in benghazi. we'll go there.
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gunfire either -- we'll listen to it, wolf. >> only moments ago, you saw it
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live here on cnn. anti-aircraft tracer fire over the skies of tripoli. libya, nic robertson was on the scene telling us what was going on. every two hours or so we see a similar situation unfolding. libyan rebels have been celebrating the air campaign, which apparently has halted pro-gadhafi forces in their tracks. let's bring in cnn's arwa damon with the opposition in benghazi, the second largest city of libya right now. i assume every time they see the tracer fire, they see the coalition aircraft coming in, the tomahawk cruise missiles they celebrate celebrate where you are, arwa. >> reporter: wolf, they most certainly do. they firmly believe that without foreign intervention, they would all au eventually have been plas kerred. if we just go back to saturday, gadhafi's forces were in benghazi. they launched an attack that
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ended up leaving 95 people dead with eyewitnesses telling us they saw thanks firing indiscriminately into seven areas. one eyewitness describing how gadhafi's troops were laughing at they unleashed their machine gunfire. truly disturbing everyone absolutely petrified. the opposition did that day manage to drive gadhafi's forces out but no one was under any illusion they would be able to sustain this in the long-term. when the air strikes happened on sunday, everybody here celebrated. everybody was expressing gratitude to the international community. because those air strikes that -- took place some 20 miles outside of benghazi where gadhafi's military was massed preparing itself for another attack literally did bring his military machine to a grinding halt. we counted 70 damaged military vehicles. gadhafi's forces were then
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forced to withdraw to the city of ajdabiya where opposition forces are right now trying to drive them out of that city. >> is there any indication these opposition forces are gearing up to march on tripoli? >> reporter: well, wolf, they say that that is their intent although they do realize that it is a very long and tough road to actually be able to reach tripoli itself. they still have to deal with a number of areas in between, not to mention ajdabiya we were just talking about. they first need to drive his military out of there. there was one report we heard from an opposition source that a unit of opposition fighters had actually tried to outflank gadhafi's military circling around ajdabiya heading towards the critical city of brega. they do say they plan on taking this all the way to tripoli and hoping and counting on the fact that the more that gadhafi's
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military is defeated, the more people are going to start coming out and standing against his regime because they no longer will be as intimidated by his forces. but this still remains a very complex battlefield. the opposition says it's also having to deal with sleeper cells, gadhafi pockets of loyalists in various cities. in benghazi they say they detained 150 of them and very concerned about the fact that they say gadhafi could be trying to use as civilian populations beak as human shields. one opposition leader telling some of his units had moved some 300 miles south of ajdabiya to embed themselves in civilian populations there perhaps to try to wait this out. they do realize the opposition does, that this is really just the beginning of a very, very tough road ahead, wolf. >> and if you are looking ahead down the road, talk a little bit about your experience in egypt. we all remember your brilliant coverage of tahrir square, the
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rebels there who were fighting mubarak and his forces. compare and contrast them to what you're seeing with these libyan rebel who are fighting gadhafi. >> reporter: well, wolf, i mean, egypt at the end of the day mubarak fell much quicker than it appears gadhafi is going to fall. there those who were opposing mubarak's regime did manage to bring him down fairly quickly, 18 days. the celebrations that followed thereafter. of course, very joyous, people ecstatic they had managed to do that. here it has turned into an armed conflict. here the force gadhafi used against his own people was so great and relentless that the demonstrators, civilians felt that they had to pick up weapons, train themselves how to fight on them and then stage themselves up against a military
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machine so the dynamics here are much, much more violent, much more complex. it does not appear that kafka daf if i is going to be relinquishing his grip on power anytime soon. add to that the fact that foreign pressure on gadhafi doesn't really work the way it did in mubarak's case. >> when i was in egypt last week, the egyptians it kept saying the major difference between what happened in egypt is that the egyption military by and large refused to kill fellow egyptians. the libyan military under gadhafi obviously ready to kill fellow libyans. a huge, huge difference. that's why this war has unfolded. the way it has. we'll stay in close touch with you. please, please be careful. unrest continues elsewhere in the arab world, as well. in yemen, three top generals and several senior officials declared their support for anti-government demonstrations today and one general said he'll
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order his troops to defend protesters. the yemeni official says these moves suggest the early stages of a bloodless coup. pressure is mounting on the long time president after a crack down on protesters left 52 people dead last week. in syria, hundreds of people marched in the southern city of dahra after the burial of a protesters witnesses say was killed in sunday's clashes with security forces. five people have reportedly died in the city since friday. opponents accuse the government of massive human rights abuses and calling for political and economic reforms. bahrain's ruler says a "external plot" their word to destabilize the country has been foiled. at the same time, the government is denying accusations it's targeting doctors. the statement follows allegations from human rights watch, the organization which says several doctors were arrested in nighttime raids. the sunni muslim monarchy has
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waged an attack. a neighboring country has sent troops in to help quell the conflict. conservative republicans unite over the military mission in libya. why they're furious at president obama right now. why dennis kucinich, the democratic congressman from ohio says president could face impeachment. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." . don't sweat it. i just switched us to sprint, so e-mail, web...on 4g... it's all unlimited. [ cellphone buzzes ] you just texted me to read the memo? unlimited text too. we really need you on this conference call. rick, it's lyle. rickster? i'm here. there he is! [ male announcer ] switch to sprint and get unlimited 4g data on a wide range of devices. sprint 4g, it's business without limits. trouble hearing on the phone? only on the now network. visit sprintrelay.com.
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taking some heat in congress -- some republicans even from some members of his own party. dana bash reports. >> reporter: the military operation in libya is resulting is in something unusual in congress these days, a bipartisan response, that is sharp criticism from both parties from the left. >> we're not coordinating with the rebels. are we going to leave them surrounded and at the mercy of gadhafi? i've never seen anything so confused in my life. >> i think the president should come home and call the congress back into session to make his case. he needs to define what the united states vital mission is here, what is our vital interest, how does he see the potential cost unfolding here. >> reporter: leading republicans from house speaker john boehner to the foreign affairs and armed services chairman all say president obama must more
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clearly define the mission. one issue they say mixed signals coming from the administration such as whether the goal is to get rid of moammar gadhafi. >> certainly the goals of this campaign right now again are limited and it isn't about seeing him go. >> u.s. policy that gadhafi needs to go. >> the president insists there's no contradiction. one is military action to back a u.n. resolution, the other u.s. policy. >> veteran senator richard lugar opposed a no-fly zone in libya from the start and told john king he's more concerned now. >> no, i do not understand the mission because as far as i can tell and in the united states, there is no mission. and are no guidelines for success. >> reporter: congressional criticism is loud and widespread, but the president does also have support. >> he has a very clear defined role of what the united states is doing in support of france and great britain and our arab league partners and other nation
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who are going to be leading the charge on the no-fly zone. >> many in the president's own party argue he has not fulfilled his constitutional obligation to consult congress. >> the president is going to have a hard time getting democrats to support their unless he comes forward with a great deal more. >> wolf, the president did send this letter to congress this afternoon trying to define the mission he says. but that's not going to satisfy many democrats. dennis kucinich says it's an impeachable offense that the president used military action without coming to congress first. the president did have a meeting last friday in "the situation room" with congressional leaders but not everybody could attend in person. some were on the phone including house speaker john boehner. he is critical now. i am told by a gop source that he did not ask questions in that meeting but because he was on the phone, that source insists it was hard for him to hear. he said nobody muted their phones on the 20-person call. wolf? >> pretty shocking that dennis
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kucinich says the president could be impeached for this action. that's dennis kucinich. thanks very much for that. iraq, afghanistan now libya. can the u.s. intervene there? not take action in bahrain, saudi arabia, some other places? what's going on? we're digging deeper on that. the breaking news continuing right here in "the situation room."
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cnn's david gergen writes today the obama administration made a "head snapping change in policy toward libya." now the u.s. is suddenly the defacto leader of an air campaign. is the mission clear? is the country behind it? let's bring in our senior political analyst david gergen and gloria borger. david, the new cnn opinion research corporation poll, gloria, on the u.s. and other countries establishing a no-fly zone in libya, last week only 56% were in favor. now that it's happened, 70% of the american public favor this? i guess we shouldn't be that surprised once the u.s. goes into military operation, the public joins in support at least initially. >> yeah, the public joins in support of the military. we didn't see what was interesting was we didn't see a sharp increase in the
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president's popularity which sometimes can happen that people rally around the commander in chief. but you know, wolf, these polls can change daily depending on what happens in libya. if this thing drags on, you can bet that those polls would start heading south. >> david, is this a situation in your opinion and i know you've written about this, that could spiral out of control? >> sure. it could spiral out of control in a lot of different ways. but especially if gadhafi were suddenly to use mustard gas. we don't know what's going to happen. two things have happened. one is, the administration and the allies have made a lot of progress in their main two goals, to suppress the libyan air defenses and to stop gadhafi in his tracks as he tries to take benghazi. those two largely missions they're largely on the way, too. when you piece it together, through what seeped to be contradictory statements within
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the administration, there seems to be a logic to it as con tort as it is. we use the force only for defensive purposes. we don't help the rebels but we're going to get gadhafi out by sanctions and other things after the force has been put in place. >> wolf, i think the question is really, how do you measure success here. you know, the president was having a kind of a rough time today. as dana bash pointed out. on the one hand, he said it's u.s. policy to get rid of gadhafi. on the other hand, it's not u.n. policy to get rid of gadhafi. i wonder whether he has second thoughts about having said that. but you know, it's a little bit confusing when you have a humanitarian mission and the man who's most responsible for murdering people still remains in power, how can you declare that humanitarian mission a success? >> normally david, before a president of the united states sends young men and women off to war, he is in the oval office addressing the american public in a speech. that did not happen this time.
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>> i think that was a mistake, wolf. he did not consult the congress fully. i think that was a mistake, as well. this all come together quickly and has a real sense of improvisation. it hopefully it's going to work. but when the president comes back from latin america, it's imperative that he sit down with congress and then address the american people about what he is trying to spell out. we shouldn't have to stitch it together from different statements from different people. >> wolf, i was talking today with richard haase, the president on council on foreign relations. he said that obama was much more focused on the process here getting the coalition together than he actually was on the policy. and he made the point to me just because you have the arab league aboard and you have the u.n. security council doesn't make the end game any better or any easier. and he said too much focus on sort of that coalition. not enough focus on how we actually get out of this. >> i know both of you have excellent columns and our
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viewers will want to go to cnn.com to read gloria's column. >> tomorrow. >> yours is not posted yet? >> no, tomorrow. >> david, yours is posted though. >> yes, it is. >> i read gloria's already. i thought they posted it but they will and viewers will want to read it. thanks to you. the u.s. and coalition nations the u.s. and coalition nations carrying out air strikes in libya. you're telling jack if the time is right for president obama to be in latin america and for decades gadhafi used his tripoli compound as a symbol of survival against america's military might. now it's in ruins. we have the pictures to show you. [ male announcer ] at quicken loans, we're a mortgage company with one very simple philosophy: every client, every time, no exceptions, no excuses.
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jack. >> the question this hour is this the right time for president obama to go on a tour of south and latin america? jason from colorado says yes. the president is in latin america, he's trying to shore up jobs and investment and get us out of this down. the president can and is doing his job from anywhere in the world. it's called telecommunications. rose writes no, it is not the right time for him to be in latin america. it appears that hillary clinton has taken the lead on the issue in libya. and where is our vice president biden? i think i read that he is holding a fundraiserer. clerk writes from minnesota, why do you ask these kinds of questions. of course it's the right time for president obama to go to latin america. or any other place in the world. ed in maryland says is that where they are going attack
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next? jenna in california says why not. is there anything that he can't do from latin america that must only be done in d.c.? i think not. you forget that we have a president that can walk and chew gum at the same time. bob in pennsylvania, when you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. rich in texas did obama go somewhere? he better get those frequent flyer miles on air force one while he can because 2012 is right around the corner and anything he flies on after that he'll have to pay for. if you want to read more on the subject go to my blog. see you tomorrow. thank you. senator richard luger says president obama has failed to define what the u.s. is doing in libya. he says there's no mission and no guidelines for success. a missile strike leaves
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gadhafi's military compound in shambles. do some stand to make a profit on the debris left behind? ooh, a brainteaser. how can expedia now save me even more on my hotel? well, hotels know they can't fill every room every day. like this one. and this one. and oops, my bad. so, they give expedia ginormous discounts with these: unpublished rates. which means i get an even more rockin' hotel, for less. my brain didn't even break a sweat. where you book matters. expedia.
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a soldier who defected holds up his gun as he joins anti-government protester. in bahrain women shouted anti-government slow arrogance. in syria, men joined a march demanding freedom and an end to 48 years of emergency law. in egypt supporters of opponents of the libyan leader gadhafi
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clash outside of the arab league's headquarters. a glimpse of protests spreading across the region as we speak. moammar gadhafi's compound in tripoli is in ruins after a coalition missile strike. will some of the debris become coveted souvenirs of war bought and sold on the internet. here's cnn's jeanne moos. >> reporter: it's launched. it lands. plugged from the damage it did. its remains are hoisted like holy relics. >> translator: this is the proof. >> reporter: missile parts at gadhafi's compound hot off the presses. >> this is still warm. >> reporter: they tap on the reporter's arm, show him more. they peer at it like an alien craft dropped in from outer space, a missile reportedly fired by a british sub landed about 100 yards from this sculpture commissioned by gadhafi the last time his
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compound was hit by president reagan. >> today we have done what we had to do. if necessary, we shall do it again. >> reporter: the golden fist clutching a u.s. warplane is one of gadhafi's favorite props, an image shown over the leaders speeches. >> we have allah with us. you have devil on your side. >> reporter: maybe the finders will put them on e-bay, not yet. a search for libya missile turns up nothing more ledly than an old libyan postage stamp featuring missile launchers manned by women. some missile part finders behaved they would like to bomb the cameras covering them. and everyone is speculate wlg the missile was sent to kill moammar gadhafi or as the allies say to take out command and control. >> i have no mission to attack that person.